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This Week in Nature: Apr 13, 2017

In this week's Nature, a multi-institute team of scientists describes the use of reverse genetics to determine the phenotypes of loss-of-function mutations, setting the stage for a "human knockout project" to understand the phenotypic consequences of complete disruption of genes. The researchers sequenced the gene-coding regions of more than 10,000 Pakistani individuals, identifying nearly 50,000 mutations predicted to cause loss of function in 1,317 genes. They then determined whether these changes were associated with any of about 200 traits measured in blood samples. In a proof-of-concept study, the scientists recruited individuals with a mutation linked to apolipoprotein C3 deficiency and demonstrated that this genetic feature was associated with an improved ability to clear dietary fat from circulation.

Also in Nature, an international group of investigators publishes an analysis of Ebola virus genomes, uncovering key factors involved in the recent epidemic in West Africa. The scientists looked at roughly 1,600 Ebola genomes, representing over 5 percent of known cases, and tested the association of geography, climate, and demography with viral movement. They discuss why the epidemic was limited to certain countries and show that the epidemic was "a heterogeneous and spatially dissociated collection of transmission clusters of varying size, duration, and connectivity." GenomeWen has more on this study, here.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.